The Buffalo Bills have lost out on the race for free agent defensive end JJ Watt.
On Monday, Watt announced that he was signing with the Arizona Cardinals, a team that was never reported to be in his top three teams this offseason.
source: me. pic.twitter.com/1Y6okQBUy5
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) March 1, 2021
After Watt announced that he was signing with the Cardinals and reuniting with a former teammate DeAndre Hopkins, NFL Network National Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Watt was signing a two-year deal worth $31 million, and $23 million was guaranteed.
The #AZCardinals are giving JJ Watt a 2-year deal worth $31M with $23M guaranteed, source said.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 1, 2021
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Bills Were Reported to Be a Top-3 Option for Watt
Throughout Watt’s free agency process, the Bills had been seen as one of his top options. On Feb. 17, ESPN’s Kimberly Martin reported that there was mutual interest on both sides in a tweet.
In a separate piece of news, Around the NFL Writer Nick Shook listed the Bills, alongside the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, and Los Angeles Rams as the best possible landing spots for the veteran defensive end.
Shook said that Buffalo’s defensive-minded team was one of the reasons why Watt would fit with the Bills, along with providing Watt a chance to win the Super Bowl.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah also stated that the Bills would be the best fit for Watt.
I have no idea where JJ Watt will land. I know the connections to GB and PIT but (in my opinion) the best fit is the Buffalo Bills.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) February 12, 2021
In the end, it was the Arizona Cardinals, a team that was never really on the map, as far as being possible suitors for Watt’s services, that ended up landing him for the next two years.
A Texans Staffer Provides an Inside Look
In an effort to revamp their defensive pressure, along with improving their ability to stop the run, it made sense for the Bills to go after Watt, if the price was right. But, according to one Houston Texans staffer, the former Wisconsin Badger may not have been worth it.
WIVB Sports Director Josh Reed said he spoke with someone on the Texans coaching staff that gave an inside look at what Watt was really like.
“He’s selfish, only cared about his stats”, “he does a lot of things that hurts the defense”, “he hurt us more than he helped us”, “I wouldn’t want him,” were all reviews that Reed tweeted out from the Texans staffer.
FWIW Bills fans: I spoke to someone who was on the Texans coaching staff with Watt and the review wasn't glowing. "He's selfish, only cared about his stats", "he does a lot of things that hurts the defense", "he hurt us more than he helped us", and finally "I wouldn't want him"
— Josh Reed (@4JoshReed) March 1, 2021
Given Watt’s production during his career in Houston, the review may come to some as a surprise. He racked up five All-Pro awards and was named the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year three different times as well.
Watt recorded 531 tackles and 101 sacks during his time in Houston. He led the league in sacks in both 2012 and 2015 and also had the league-high in tackles for a loss three times as well.
What’s Next for the Bills
The Bills have plenty of areas that they need to improve this offseason and while improving their defensive line was one area, their offensive line is also an area that they need to build up this offseason. One of the main pieces of that will be right tackle Daryl Williams.
Spotrac.com predicts that Williams will draw an average annual salary of $7.8 million so not signing Watt could the Bills to sign Williams, if they don’t bring back linebacker Matt Milano either.
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